Chiropractic Report Forms Increase Referrals
Forms designed for your chiropractic report of findings increase the impact of your reports. What forms do you need? How many should you use? What topics should the forms cover? The answers to these and other questions are explained below.
Even with the promise of paperless offices, we’re cutting down more trees than ever. Turns out we want to hold something in our hand, whether shopping for a new car or spending hundreds, maybe thousands on our health. That’s the first and most important point:
Don’t send patients home empty-handed.
If your report of findings is largely a verbal affair, it’s certainly better than not giving a report at all. However, patients will forget much—probably most—of what you’ve said. Worse yet, an oral report limits your patients’ ability to review your observations and then recreate your explanations to others. That’s especially costly if the patient’s significant other can’t, or won’t, attend your live report.
Equip patients to repeat your explanations.
Perhaps more subtle is the fact that chiropractic care is intangible. You can’t touch it, study it or test it before buying. As with all such intangibles, consumers look for surrogates by which to evaluate the likely quality of their chiropractic care. Thus, new patients use everything they encounter about you or your practice to judge the likely quality of your care. That includes everything from your carpet, furnishing and color scheme to your practice location, the cleanliness of your parking lot and hundreds of the smallest details. In other words, a dirty carpet could raise doubts about your competency. Same with your report forms. Poor photocopies rather than crisp original report forms can reflect poorly on your clinical skills.
Report forms bring tangibility to your intangible service.
Besides adding tangibility to your service, using the appropriate report forms helps avoid information overload. If you explain chiropractic principles, offer details about the results of your examination, make care recommendations and explore the financial implications of your initial intensive care, you run the risk of burdening the patient with too much information. Supplying backup documentation helps avoid this problem, as patients can review it after your report. Whenever possible, avoid a long, word-heavy narrative in favor of forms with short fill-ins, checkboxes and annotated illustrations.
Here are the essential patient report of findings forms used by thousands of the busiest chiropractic practices around the world:
Examination Form — An executive summary that records your findings and care plan details. Use a red pen to record their presenting complaint(s), the tests you conducted, your findings, the initial care plan, your home care recommendations and the date of your progress exam. Simply check a couple of boxes and enter a few key phrases. You’re done in seconds.
Besides being a great template for an effective report of findings, this form equips the patient with the highlights of your report that they can share with others.
Posture Form — Use this form to record your structural findings and document each patient’s postural distortions. Use the lateral spine illustration to record a loss of curve, a forward head carriage or the location of spondylolisthesis. Use the A-P illustration to show scoliosis, a high shoulder or a low hip and to record the weights from your bilateral scales and grip strength findings. Equip patients to see what you’re seeing.
Nervous System Form — This form is used to make the integrity of the patient’s nervous system the centerpiece of your report of findings. This posterior view lists the major neurological connections at each segmental level. These are simple anatomical truths, uncluttered by a list of potential symptoms. Simply circle the areas of subluxation, linking the bones with the nerves.
Since this form features a posterior view rather than the traditional lateral view, it permits you to emphasize symmetry and balance. Also, if you use sEMG, you can print their scans on the back. This form demonstrates that you’re a nerve doctor, not merely a bone doctor. It’s how you’re able to influence whole-body health.
Spinal Decay Form — This report form enables you to send examples of the X-rays you conduct home with each patient. Even if you take digital X-rays, you can use it to “phase place” their cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.
“When you compare the side view of your neck with these printed examples, which one comes closest to matching yours? Textbook normal? Phase One? Phase Two? Or Phase Three?”
Watch as this simple question engages patients. It prompts them to “own” their condition and its significance.
Circle the view(s) that most closely match theirs. Check the boxes that describe what’s going on. Annotate your important findings along the bottom.
Patient Report Folder – After reviewing the essential report forms with the patient, organize your report documents in a professional, take-home folder.
The built-in internal flap holds all your report forms and supporting documents. Insert your business card and relevant brochures in the die cuts provided.
The up-to-date graphics and smart design send a powerful trust signal, giving your clinical findings and recommendations greater credibility. They increase care plan acceptance. Plus, they impress spouses, who you often don’t even get to meet.
Other Report Forms to Consider
Curriculum vitae – Most patients are interested in your story. Why did you choose to become a chiropractor? What college did you attend? What special training or awards have you received? Include this information or a one-page biography with your other report forms.
Chiropractic vocabulary – Like every discipline, chiropractic has its own language and special terms. Many of them patients have never heard before. Consider including a one-page list of key terms and their meanings.
How Our Practice Works – Use a form like this to list the governing principles of your practice, such as the importance of consistent visits, adjustments won’t be treating their symptoms, the value of post-symptomatic care, etc.
Home care procedures – Do you recommend the use of heat or ice? Do you want patients to perform stretches, maneuvers or specific exercises? Make sure you present your home care recommendations in printed form, along with other “dos and don’ts” regarding pillows, hydration, proper lifting and other helpful tips.
It’s hardly a surprise that practices that equip patients with forms that support their clinical findings and recommendations enjoy better patient follow-through and more referrals.
Is it more work? A little. Does it take time to develop new habits around your report of findings procedures? Of course. Will your first attempt be perfect? Probably not. But that’s okay. Having the courage to upgrade the report of findings is how the busiest practices get that way.